It pays to look good: Aesthetic treatments gain popularity

Ms Leong Khay Mun found out she once got a job over another candidate because she was 'better-looking'.
PHOTO: It pays to look good: Aesthetic treatments gain popularity

SINGAPORE - Could your looks be a factor in winning that dream job or in doing well in a career? That is what some people believe, a recent survey of 500 people found.

The survey, done by the Society of Aesthetics Medicine (SAM) last month, found that more than half of the 400 women and 100 men surveyed would consider facial treatments, particularly around their eyes. It also found that many feel attractiveness is key to a more successful career. (See report above.)

Ms Wendy Zhao, 33, who is looking for a job, had botox injections earlier this year to smoothen out her frown lines and crow's feet.

It was part of her preparation for her job search after a five-month hiatus, she said.

"I'm looking to venture into the sales industry. In the present society, looking youthful is valued, especially for professions that accord importance to physical appearances," Ms Zhao said.

BOTHERED BY COMMENTS

She felt that the wrinkles around her eyes made her look listless. Comments from her colleagues also bothered her.

"I want to add credibility and not have people discounting my capability just because I look tired," the former project manager said.

But Ms Zhao was quick to add that competence is as critical, saying: "Both are important. It's a combination."

Dr Georgia Lee, an aesthetic doctor and a SAM member, said: "Most professionals, executives and management personnel I know do not mind looking experienced, but they usually do not want to look tired.

"Looking good does give a person the edge, but having the right attitude and the actual capabilities are important attributes in the long run."

Dr Terence Tan, who runs Halley Medical Aesthetics, told The New Paper that aesthetic treatments have recently grown more popular among young people.

While he could not say for sure what drives his patients to seek treatment, he suspects it is due to the Korean wave.

Some of the more common requests include a slimmer jaw, sharper nose, bigger eyes or fairer skin, he said.

His wife, Ms Leong Khay Mun, agreed that looks are a factor.

The business and journalism degree holder recalled applying for a technology-writing position when she was fresh out of school. She was hired.

But months later, she found out from a colleague that she was picked over another candidate because she was "better-looking".

Said the 41-year-old freelance writer: "I got a shock then. My parents used to tell me that inner beauty is important. It's not how you look, but what you can do.

"I felt that I had a lot more to prove to my editor - that I could write and was not just another pretty face."

Like Ms Zhao, she appreciates the importance of inner beauty, but pointed out that the first point of contact is still how one looks on the outside.

"I can't speak for the engineering industry, but if you are in a room of engineers, chances are the better-looking one would stand out from the rest."

Of the survey results, Ms Corinna Lim, the executive director of the Association of Women for Action and Research, said she was saddened.

But she conceded that "people are very swayed by first impressions of what they see".

""I can understand that first impressions still do count, but when we talk about appearances, it could be things like looking pleasant, friendly, professional and well-groomed," she said.

"People should not feel pressured to go for a nip and tuck."

BY THE NUMBERS

The survey, conducted in Singapore by the Society of Aesthetics Medicine and sponsored by pharmaceutical company Allergan, asked 400 women and 100 men for their views on the link between attractiveness and job prospects.

The respondents, aged between 30 and 60, earn more than $3,000 a month.

The results revealed that:

89 per cent think facial attractiveness is important at work

91 per cent agree attractive people are more likely to be called for job interviews based on their photographs in the resumes

84 per cent feel attractive people are more likely to be hired or promoted

56 per cent think attractive people are better paid than their peers with similar qualifications

53 per cent feel attractive people are more successful in all areas of work

This article was published on April 29 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.